It’s a topic that hasn’t really been raised frequently in the National Hockey League with the proliferation of new arenas over the last twenty years, but apparently the size of ice surfaces do differ even in this era of NHL hockey.
Staples Center has a “way smaller” ice surface according to St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, who has plenty of experience coaching against the Los Angeles Kings as a former coach of the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets in addition to the Blues.
On speaking about the Blues’ first game in Los Angeles since being unable to hold a 4-1 lead in a 6-4 Kings win on March 5, Hitchcock referred to St. Louis’ play for 40 minutes in that game as a means of being able to play with confidence at Staples Center. The conversation then veered in a direction few anticipated.
“I think there’s a higher level of confidence knowing that we can play well in this building,” Hitchcock said.” It’s such a different game here with the smaller ice surface here. It’s such a different game. So I think we made changes the last game to play in this building, and hopefully we can continue to make those changes and play 60 minutes.”
So how is it a “different game”?
“Corners come up quick. You round the net and feel like you’re in the corner. It’s just a rounded building. There’s the same surface, but the configuration here for me makes it a different feel. A different feel for the on-ice players, a different feel for the coaches, so things happen a lot quicker in this building and you’ve just got to be ready for it.”
“I’ve said that for years in this building. It’s an interesting building. Some of the buildings are more rectangular in the corners, the rinks, and these are rounded….They round off quick. Both teams are built for this type of surface, so it should be a good game here.”